October 20th 2016 is a day that I will remember for quite some time. Not only is it officially the 20th anniversary of the Pokemon Trading Card Game, but finally after months of building anticipation, Nintendo released a trailer giving us our first look at their new home console. The three and a half minute trailer was packed full of exciting tidbits about upcoming games, features and support for the new system. Also, after months of referring to it under its codename, NX, Nintendo revealed the official name of the long awaited follow up to the Wii U: Nintendo Switch. Is the name a frenzy-inducing, exciting or inventive name? Not really. In fact, the codename NX is by far a more interesting moniker, however, even with the small amount of information we received, there’s a lot to look forward to when the Switch launches this coming March. The short video highlighted some of the major gameplay functions, but also managed to sneak in some more info for eagle eyed fans. So let’s break down some of the information we have as of today.
The trailer revealed the big mystery of the Nintendo Switch. Fans have been speculating that the new home console would also double as a portable gaming device due to some patent information that has popped up over the last year. It turns out; the fans hit the nail on the head. As the name implies, players will be able to switch between playing from the comfort of their homes, to playing the same games on the go, at the park, or at their friend’s apartments (apparently Nintendo thinks our friends all live in apartments). The core device and “brain” of the console resides in the portable unit containing the LCD screen. This device can be removed from the docking station and used as a full version of the console, only with added mobility to continue gaming throughout the world
The Dock functions as a charging station and power supply, as well as providing an output to your television for home gaming. This is the main attraction of the Switch, finally giving us a fully functional home and mobile device all in one gorgeous bundle. Back when the Wii U was released, this was the feature that I had assumed Nintendo was trying to bring to us. Unfortunately, the Wii U Gamepad doesn’t even have the capability to extend game play to the next room in your house, much less anywhere you travel. It seems as though Nintendo is finally perfecting the functionality and bringing us a feature that will surely be the future of console gaming.
Of course, one does not simply release a console, regardless of how innovative the basic functionality is, when you are Nintendo. Nintendo is known for focusing on ingenuity over power when it comes to designing new consoles. Their systems may not lead the way in graphics, raw power, or even memory, but they are famously willing to take a risk to change the way we play video games. This time around the Switch offers a plethora of ways to actually control the games. Players often complain about Nintendo’s controllers, especially since they often come with a gimmicky function in tow. The Switch has a new pro controller for fans of modern gaming, which is more in line with an Xbox controller rather than the sticks and pads of their past. It basically resembles the Pro controller that we already have, which is fine by me. But, I’m guessing that’s not the way the games are “intended” to be played considering the Pro is not its primary controller.
The real crown jewels of the console are the Joy-Con L and R controllers, which can be played multiple ways themselves. The two controllers can be joined together by the Joy-Con Grip to form, what looks to be, what they consider the default controller. Now, this is a controller done in typical Nintendo fashion. Somewhat resembling the Gamecube Wavebird, it may be odd and possibly uncomfortable, but darn…does it look cool. Each side also cleverly features new plus and minus buttons which I assume is for menus and pauses much like the Wii family controllers (No, that’s NOT the world’s tiniest D-pad). The two sides can also be played while detached from the grip and held in each hand. I can’t imagine this would be ideal for me, but in the end, variety is everything. They can also be attached to the console and removed from the base to be played with in all of its portable beauty. The portable design actually looks remarkably comfortable and promises not to be a dim, downgraded disappointment according to Nintendo. If that’s not enough, two players can split the L and R controllers and use the console as a mobile screen for local multiplayer. Get a few friends with their own Switches together and expand the local multiplayer as much as each game will allow. Speaking of, Nintendo kindly gave us some sneak peeks at what we have to look forward to in the library.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was the first game officially announced for the console. Fans even had a chance to play the Wii U version of the anticipated title at this year’s E3. The game looks like it will be a beautifully rendered, immersive new take on the series, but to list everything that I’m geeking out on this game about would probably take its own article. Nintendo showed off its multiplayer capabilities by featuring gamers playing a rigorous game of Mario Kart. The big change here is that one of the players is controlling King Boo who is absent from the Wii U’s Mario Kart 8. The game also shows that two items are able to be held for attacking and ruining friendships. This confirms that we will either be getting a new Mario Kart or at least a port, the latter being a more likely scenario. Bringing King Boo back is a nice step forward in the MK8 lineup, which was lackluster at best, but bringing Diddy Kong back into the fold would push me to forgive the inclusion of an excessive amount of Baby characters to the roster. While we didn’t get to see any hints that Super Smash Bros will make its way to the console, it is more than likely we will get it eventually. Nintendo may release a separate barrage of information, hopefully, specifically focused on Smash as they have been known to do in the past.
Another scene featured what appears to be a brand new 3-D based Super Mario game. Everyone’s favorite plumber appears to be venturing through a Dias Los Muertos themed wonderland and utilizing his 3-D game mechanics. It is a bit hard to tell if the mechanics are closer to 3-D World or Galaxy, but Mario Galaxy 3 has been a long awaited title and is what I’m crossing my fingers for. Another game heavily featured was, the surprise hit on Wii U, Splatoon which doesn’t showcase any new features. The video shows fans gathering in a packed stadium while a competitive Splat match begins. Other than confirming a port for the fan favorite squid-shooter (or Inker?), the setting raises my hopes that Nintendo will eventually start supporting or sponsoring Esports events in the future.
One of the big takeaways from the trailer, and subsequent information released after the debut, is that Nintendo is finally getting more serious 3rd party support. One of the big complaints about Nintendo’s game library is that they typically do not get the top selling main stream games, whether it’s due to hardware support or, more commonly, the fact that Nintendo has always focused and banked on their 1st party characters. An expansive list of developers is currently creating games that will hopefully fill out a launch library that’s able to quell the grievances. We got confirmation that a Skyrim Remastered edition will be released at some point, which will mark the first time a game of that magnitude is included on a Nintendo system. The trailer shows some clips of people playing on both the Pro Controller and the dual wielded Joy-Con Controllers. As an avid Fallout fan, support from Bethesda was one of the most exciting bits of information for me, and if it ever sees a Nintendo release, I think I may die from joy. Until we know more about games coming to the Switch, I can just be happy that the company I love looks like they are going to start getting the respect they deserve in the gaming community.
Another rumor confirmed by the trailer is the switch back to cartridge based games as a replacement for the disk-based games of old. It may be the nostalgic sentiment in Nintendo fan’s hearts, but it seems to be very warmly welcomed by everyone. Having the Home Console and Handheld market employ the same media for games will be much easier for gamers wanting to experience the best of both worlds. The Gamecards, as they are dubbed, are small and sleek, closely resembling the 3DS games that are piling up in our collections now. Will this replace the Wii U and the 3DS, who have different formats for their games and not much connectivity? It’s hard to say since Nintendo fans tend to have a hard time letting go of consoles from the past. But, for the average gamer, having no connection with the company, I could see how the last generation of gaming could be rendered irrelevant.
Well, this seems to be a point of disagreement amongst fans after the reveal. Many think the system is an abhorrent, disgusting eyesore of a console more closely resembling a toaster than a game console. Others find it to be an elegant, imaginative thing of beauty. I for one fell in love with the console the moment I laid eyes on it. It’s sleek, fun and offers more playability than we usually get from consoles before adding cameras and motion sticks. I can’t express enough how gorgeous it is to me from the docking base’s sturdiness to the light simplicity of the Joy-Cons. Now, what we saw in the trailer are demo models and could undergo changes between now and launch, but hopefully they stick with the core aesthetic, and keep the tradition of focusing heavily on innovation and unique entertainment alive.
As far as further functionality, such as HardDrive size, inclusion of touchscreen capabilities, price, or a comprehensive list of games, Nintendo is keeping a tight lip for the time being. More details will be released before the launch in March of 2017, but this tease was just enough to bait fans away from hammering Nintendo to give details on the system. Just a little taste is all this fan needs to stay satisfied until a deeper look into the specs is made available. Based off of the general tone of the trailer, it appears as though the Switch will be the first Nintendo console specifically geared towards adult gamers. While that is a scary notion, I trust that they have the foresight to remember why we have remained loyal fans (i.e. Splatoon > COD). Either way, the line has been drawn and Nintendo is ready to be taken seriously, while still retaining their unique flavor. Established partnerships with companies such as Activision, Havok and even the Unreal Engine 4 should go a long way to bring them back into the forefront of the gaming industry. While many reviewers have been critical of the hardware, the look and even the new controllers, one thing we can all agree on…It’s a wonderful time to be a Nintendo fan!
You can find all you need to know about the Nintendo Switch at www.nintendo.com/switch or on the Atomic Geekdom and Just2Pals Podcasts when more information comes to light. You can also view the Official Reveal Trailer, that all of the kids are talking about, right here on atomicgeekdom.com!